New spike in undocumented immigrants crossing border

House Democrats demand end to immigrant detentionOfficials in the United States say there was a sudden and unexpected rise in the number of undocumented immigrant families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border between the United States and Mexico in August, causing fears of a new influx of refugees similar to that seen last year.

In 2014 the United States was faced with a crisis when up to 10,000 unaccompanied immigrant minors and a further 16,000 families per month started to arrive at the south-western border. The increased number of crossings in August is unexpected given that the danger caused by higher summer temperatures tends to result in a reduction in the amount of undocumented immigrants who try to cross the border into the United States.

The recent spike was around 50% less than in 2014, US officials say, but it has nonetheless concerned officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the White House enough for them to start preparing for another influx of new arrivals. The great majority of the immigrants in the surge last year came from countries in Central America that suffer from high levels of poverty and gang violence.

Many of these refugees are still being housed in the United States, although the numbers fell after a US campaign to send many back to their home countries and warnings about the dangers of trying to cross the border. The numbers in 2015 had been trending downwards until last month.